What Are Interstitial Ads And the Best Practices for Using Them

Staff Writer
Last Updated
December 29, 2023
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Interstitial or defined as being intervening interval or space - and interstitial ads are basically the new form of pop-up ads! 

What Exactly Are Interstitial Ads?

The exact definition will be full screen adverts placed during natural transition points of a user’s experience on websites, mobile apps or games that disrupts the user flow to provide a clear distinction between the user experience and advertising space.

In simpler terms, they are the annoying ads that pop up and completely block your screen, forcing you to close it or click on it before continuing with your content, game or experience.

A common example of an interstitial ad is the adverts which play in the middle of a YouTube video. An important note is that the ones which play before the video are not considered interstitial ads, instead these are prestitial ads which play before any content is shown.

These ads are one of the most commonly found monetisation methods for free mobile games or apps, and is appreciated by advertisers as it guarantees users’ attention (often with a countdown timer before they are able to close it.)

On the flip side, if you have used apps with such adverts, you would experience some amount of negative emotions due to the disruption of your user experience, which may also carry over towards the adverts especially if the platform has a higher frequency of such ads.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that Google now penalises interstitial ads on mobile webpages as obstructing mobile content is against their guideline. This translates into lower SEO rankings which could be a major minus point if your site relies on organic search traffic.

So Why Use An Interstitial Ad?

Interstitial ads are one of the most popular mobile monetisation strategies for a reason - the larger the advert, the deeper the user’s impression, which leads to higher clickthrough rates (CTR) and conversion rates.

Many mobile apps also implement a countdown timer to prevent users from immediately closing the interstitial ads, which ensures impression and meets the marketers’ objective.

Furthermore, while ad blockers can be employed to block an interstitial ad on desktops, it is unavoidable on mobile experiences and hence is a powerful tool for marketers and mobile developers seeking to monetise.

The 5 Best Practices for Using Interstitial Ads

With all the benefits of interstitial ads for marketers, it is undeniably an intrusive advertising tool and hence it is important to use it with proper caution and best practices to avoid turning users off.

So here are 5 best practices for you to properly use interstitial ads:

1. Follow the ecosystem's rules

Google, Apple and other ecosystems all have rules regarding interstitial ads and you should comply with them as they are meant to provide a good user experience.

For developers, Google penalises apps with intrusive interstitial ads which fall under the following violations:

  1. Interstitial ads that do not appear during a natural transition, instead appearing while the user is in the middle of a task (eg. adding item to cart)
  2. Interstitial ads that appear on app opening.
  3. Interstitial ads which repeat after the user's action.
  4. Continuous display of interstitial ads

If you are a brand or marketer, it is important for you to avoid such developers to prevent your interstitial ads from being similarly negatively impacted as users are easily offended by obtrusive advertising.

2. Create a good user flow and experience

Users are entitled to a good flow and user experience, and if your adverts whether it is interstitial or otherwise overwhelms their usage experience - you can expect them to uninstall the app.

It is important that interstitials are used for linear user experiences and complement clear start and stop points in their usage. This minimises the disruption to the user experience.

It is also recommended that it appears before and not after break pages which requires the user's action to proceed. This is also ads that appear immediately after can lead to accidental ad clicks and decrease conversion.

This is important for marketers as if you are being charged on clicks, this could lead to lower ROI due to accidental ad clicks.

3. Exit ad buttons should be accessible

One of the biggest complaints about interstitial ads are the lack of visibility on how to exit the ad to continue their usage. While most people understand ads help to support free apps if the adverts are a huge disruption and deliberately hard to close, this is a huge turn-off for the average user.

Hence, it is important to clearly show the exit button and the timeout feature if the ad must be viewed for a certain duration. Do not block your ad exit button with other elements or hide it with muted colors or small sizes.

4. Moderate frequency and timing

If the frequency of interstitials is too high, user experience can be so affected that they won’t be able to enjoy the usage of the app, game or site. 

Hence it is important to moderate the appearances of interstitials even for marketers as a very high ad frequency will end up turning off your target audience as well.

The duration of the advert and timing which it appears is also important in minimising disruption to user experience which also impacts their perception and receptivity towards the interstitial ads.

5. Have targeted post-click landing pages

From a marketing standpoint, just having the user click through is insufficient as your ultimate objective is conversion. 

It is crucial that you have dedicated landing pages that are relevant to your ad and target audience to ensure a high conversion rate with a linear flow, compelling and targeted copy and call to action. 

This ensures that users do not get confused and drop off as opposed to simply directing them to your website where they may be lost or distracted.

Considering Employing Interstitial Ads?

With mobile marketing on the rise, and the potential of interstitial ads to deliver high impression rates and CTR, it is definitely a powerful tool in any marketers’ arsenal. 

However, we highly recommend that interstitial ads be used carefully and in the right way, as they could easily incite negative impact and give rise to the situation we had with pop-up advertising flooding users!

"John Doe - Cardinal Digital's Adwords Services helped me get 11 new customers per week! Just a couple days of advertising, and I was booked through the weekend."
John Doe
Oasis Air Conditioning
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